Learn to love your slow cooker

 Slow cooker chicken tikka masala

Chowhound recently proclaimed that this is "the age of the crockpot." The "golden age" term has perhaps been bandied about too often, but hyperbole aside, the once forgotten slow cooker has found new life in modern kitchens. As Chowhound points out, the machines have improved in recent years. But while the slow cooker is among the simplest appliances to use, the site correctly notes that "not all crock-pot dishes are created equal. What you cook, how you assemble it in the cooker, and how long you let it simmer - these are all crucial points in winning at slow cooking."

The article provides a brief history of the appliance. While the concept of passive cooking has been around as long as fires have slowly died, the slow cooker itself can be traced back only about 50 years. While initially marketed as time savers for the busy working woman who wanted to feed her family, Chowhound stresses that slow cookers "do not eliminate the need for prep or preliminary steps such as browning meats and soaking beans (though you can certainly just dump a bunch of raw stuff in a crock pot, it doesn't yield optimal results)."

However, when properly used, slow cookers can assist in time management because they don't need to be constantly monitored. Top food bloggers and cookbook writers have elevated the slow cooker by crafting recipes that take advantage of the gentle heat of the appliance while adding a much needed flavor boost to the bland recipes of yore. In addition to providing tips and recipes, Chowhound offers a guide to purchasing a slow cooker, exploring the varied features that have emerged in recent years like programmable timers. Most of the many factors that go into choosing and using a slow cooker are also covered, and the site offers a comparison of three top models.

Once you purchase the perfect appliance, try one of the highly rated recipes from the EYB Library specially adapted for the slow cooker. There are also categories for other small appliances or specialized cookware, specifically for the rice cooker, pressure cooker and microwave.

Photo of Slow cooker chicken tikka masala from indexed blog The Kitchn

1 Comment

  • TrishaCP  on  2/9/2016 at 3:09 PM

    I actually get perfectly cooked beans, no soaking required, with a slow cooker. Cooking beans and making stock are my two favorite uses.

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